Sunday, May 10, 2009


A very interesting conversation with colleagues over lunch ensued sometime back over the whole concept of traditions.

Lets consider a sociological experiment first.
Put five monkeys in a cage with a ladder at one end which leads upto a banana. Now sooner or later at least one of those monkeys will go ahead to the ladder to scale it and grab the banana. As soon as one of the monkeys touches the ladder spray the other bunch with water. (At this point it is immaterial if the first monkey gets the banana.) Now place another banana and whenever any monkey reaches the ladder, spray the rest with water. After sometime there will be a scenario where if any of the monkeys goes towards the ladder then the rest will gang up on him and hold him back with the fear of getting sprayed.

Once this condition is manifested then remove one of the monkeys and replace him with another. Now obviously this new dude will go towards the ladder to grab the banana. But this time (no water spray) what would happen is all the other monkeys would hold him back (with the fear of getting sprayed if someone went to the ladder). Replace all the original monkeys now one by one with others and soon a pattern emerges that noone will be allowed to get to the banana. Even though there is no water being sprayed at this point.

None of them know exactly why they aren't supposed to get to the banana but the argument over here is "Since this is the way things have always been done, we continue to follow suit".

This is the whole point about tradition, most of us do follow several customs etc. but as to what reasons are behind this we hardly ever know.


Chaitu said...

In this case water spraying was an experiment. But, in reality that might be really something that is bad and the comprehension of the people might not be such as to understand it. In such a case it helps to name it as tradition and follow it.
But, yeah time and again we need to revisit the tradition and determine if its still relevent

abhi-shrek said...

Of course...irrespective of the fact that once upon a time there really was a significance we definitely need to do a rethink of customs and traditions....